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Good diet never grows old
December 22nd, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Good diet never grows old

Older adults who eat a healthy diet tend to live longer than those who indulge in desserts and high-fat dairy products, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. With the projected doubling of our older population by 2030, what people put on their plates may be even more important.

For 10 years, researchers followed the eating habits of 2,500 healthy seniors aged70 to 79.  They found  people who ate ice cream, whole milk and other high fat-dairy items had a 40% higher risk of dying during the decade of study than those who ate a healthful diet. People who ate sweets such as doughnuts, cakes, and cookies had a 37% higher risk of dying in that same 10 year study period.

The seniors were placed into one of the following 6 dietary categories depending upon what they ate:   1) Healthy foods 2) High-fat dairy products 3) Meat, fried foods and alcohol 4) Breakfast cereal 5) Refined grains and 6) Sweets and desserts. The people with the more healthful diets not only lived longer they also reported having a better quality of life, for a longer period of time than others.

"Our study and several previous studies suggest that it may be important what people eat at any age and that people can perhaps increase their quality of life and survival by following a healthy diet," explains lead author Amy Anderson, Postdoctoral Researcher with the University of Maryland's Department of Nutrition and Food Science.

Eating healthy meant  including more low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish in the diet as opposed to meat, fried foods, sweets, highly sugared drinks and other fatty foods. The healthy group got only 3% of their calories from high-fat dairy products such as cheese and ice cream, for example, while the high-fat dairy group got 17% of their calories from these foods. The healthier group also ate fewer sweets with only 6% of their calories coming from these treats compared to 25% by those in the desserts group.

The study noted that in the past century, the leading causes of death were from infectious diseases. Now people are dying from chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, which are often tied to what we eat.

"I think this research is important, especially now with the baby boomers entering these older age groups. So if people have a higher quality of life and survival , if they're healthier, this can reduce the cost of health care and improve people's daily lives in general," says Anderson.


soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. helenbarett

    Very true that major brands do give out samples on their products, search online for "123 Get Samples" we just got ours today. You wont need CC.

    December 22, 2010 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. HealingNews

    When one really gets on a "healthy diet", disparity in figures would be staggering. By healthy diet, I mean what is know as vegan [no animal products] with large amounts of raw produce, nuts, and seeds. We have done tremendous research in natural nutrition at the web's "Healing News Network", HealingNews.com .

    What this article calls "healthy foods" would be marginal unless it includes: 1. Non GMO [Genetic Modification] 2. Pure Organic 3. Proper food combining 4. Avoiding deleterious effects of all contaminated animal products. 5. Even the UN now recommends the Vegan diet, to avoid lack of food around the World.

    December 22, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.